Letter from the Global Executive Director: J-PAL's response to COVID-19

Posted on:
Authors:
Coronavirus image
Photo: Shutterstock.com

We are extending J-PAL research initiative RFP deadlines. Please see the revised dates here.

The coronavirus outbreak is a human tragedy that has already imposed untold suffering on tens of thousands of people worldwide who have been infected by the virus and their families. Hundreds of millions more are enduring lockdowns, lack of income, uncertainty and concern about the safety of their families. We can only hope at this stage that this is controlled soon and worldwide.

Rapidly escalating response: At J-PAL, our absolute priority is the safety of our staff, students, researchers, partners, and the human subjects participating in the research. Even as we started contingency planning for a total shut-down in late February, we simultaneously put in place escalating measures across the more than dozen cities worldwide where we have staff or offices. This began by restricting international travel of our staff on February 27th, moving quickly to social distancing in the office and in the field, severely curtailing domestic travel, and then starting March 13th, closing all our physical offices worldwide and moving to mandatory work-from-home while guaranteeing the salary and benefits of our ~400 staff

For a complete and up-to-date list of actions we are taking, please consult our COVID-19 response page.

Thank you: Even as we introduce many new efforts to respond to COVID-19, we are fully aware that some of the measures we took to close down offices and research operations are unprecedented and may cause grave disruption to many research, policy and training activities. But we are all living through truly unprecedented and uncertain times, and given the current outlook and the great risk from unimpeded spread of COVID-19 on all our internal and external stakeholders, their families and the communities that we live in, we consider the safety of subjects, staff, researchers, partners, and the public at large of the utmost priority. 

We are deeply appreciative of the messages and actions of so many of our donors, researchers, alumni, partner organizations, and host universities who have reached out to us to inquire about J-PAL policies, extended their full support for any steps we may take for the wellbeing of our staff, or have on their own implemented measures to prevent in-person contacts on account of their research projects. It means a lot to us. 

We are living in truly unsettling times, the likes of which most us have never seen for the breadth of their reach, depth of their impact, or the length of their uncertainty. Moments of crisis like this test us all—they test us as individuals, they test us as colleagues, and they test us as an organization. I could not be more grateful to see how the entire J-PAL family has come together to do our part. To all our colleagues, I want to say a big thank you for your hard work, understanding, patience, collegiality, commitment, generosity, and can-do attitude. 

While our problems are significant, they often pale in comparison to hundreds of millions around the world with far fewer resources, work-from-home flexibility, health coverage, safety nets to endure this crisis, or a wonderful family of caring colleagues at work. We have a lot to be grateful for and a lot to give back. Everyone at J-PAL is committed to continue doing our bit.

*ATAI will only accept proposals from researchers that previously completed the pre-proposal form. 

**Proposal applications for GI’s Conference Travel Grants program for the BREAD conference are now on hold, given the postponement of the BREAD conference.

Posted by Iqbal Dhaliwal.